CAPE MAY NATURAL HISTORY & EVENTS HOTLINE A/O October 25, 2001
You have reached the Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline, a
service of New Jersey Audubon Society's Cape May Bird Observatory. This
update was made on Thursday, October 25th. The Cape May Birding Hotline
has moved to 609-898-BIRD (sorry for any inconvenience).
It is the eve of New Jersey Audubon's 55th Annual Cape May Autumn
Weekend / THE Bird Show -- October 26, 27, & 28. 45 vendors from all
over the country will be showing off their latest birding gear, optics,
clothing, books, artwork, gift items, and more at the Cape May
Convention Center on the beach at Stockton Avenue. David Sibley will be
in town and a special book signing is set for Saturday, October 27th,
from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Cape May Convention Center. Come enjoy the
weekend. Looks like we timed it perfectly, a coldfront is promised for
the weekend. To sign up for the day programs, stop by our weekend
registration desk at the Grand Hotel on Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.),
Saturday (8 a.m. to Noon), Sunday (8 to 10 a.m.).
CMBO's Cape May Hawkwatch crew this fall is composed of Bruce McWhorter,
the counter; Brennan Mulrooney, the back-up counter, and two
Interpretive Naturalists, Jennifer Leyhe and Derek Lovitch. Jennifer
and Derek are on the Cape May Hawkwatch Platform at the Cape May Point
State Park each day to help folks with raptor identification and
understanding the flight. Normally raptors are low and hunting in the
early morning and again by mid-to-late afternoon and early evening.
Mid-day they are often quite high, due to thermals or warm air rising.
The CAPE MAY HAWKWATCH began on September 1st and is nearing the end of
its second month. As of October 24th over 21,600 raptors have been
recorded. This last week was unseasonably warm with summertime
temperatures -- not very good migration weather. This coming weekend's
predicted coldfront will certainly trigger the next big wave of raptors
-- plus we are getting into peak buteo season and the time we all await
when Golden Eagles come through. Despite the warm temperatures this
past week 13 species of raptors were enjoyed. To view the CMBO
Hawkwatch daily totals, go to:
CMBO's Avalon Seawatch crew this fall is composed of Karl Bardon, the
counter, Brennan Mulrooney, the back-up counter, Cameron Cox, the
Interpretive Naturalist, and CMBO Associate Naturalists Gail Dwyer and
BJ Pinnock, who taught Seabird ID Mini-workshops at the Avalon Seawatch
(7th Street and the beach in Avalon) through October 21. Bring a scope
and your binoculars and enjoy the flight of seabirds as they migrate
south along the coastline, often passing quite close to the Seawatch at
the north end of Avalon because it juts a mile out into the ocean.
The AVALON SEAWATCH began on September 22nd and has already recorded
205,227 seabirds. This past week has seen some incredible flights, with
17,600 on October 24th and 15,700 on the 23rd! Both COMMON LOONS and
RED-THROATED LOONS are steady now, along with N. GANNETS. The season's
first HORNED GREBES, LONG-TAILED DUCKS, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD,
RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, and BONAPARTE'S GULLS showed up this week.
Huge numbers of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT are passing by the seawatch
daily. Mixed in with these flocks are some GREAT CORMORANT, including 4
on October 20, 3 on the 21st, and 1 on the 23rd. Huge flights of SURF
SCOTER are passing by now (10,800 on Oct. 23 and 12,000 on Oct. 24),
mixed with hundreds of BLACK SCOTERS and a smattering of WHITE-WINGED
SCOTERS. PARASITIC JAEGERS continue to dazzle visitors to the Avalon
Seawatch, with 11 seen on both Oct. 20 and 21st, 3 on the 22nd, and 2 on
the 23rd & 24th. A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was seen at the Seawatch on
CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project began September 1st. Chris Kisiel is
this fall's Monarch Migration Technician. Over 6,500 Monarchs have been
tagged at Cape May Point by this project in the past two months.
For a history of CMBO's Monarch Monitoring Project and details on this
fall's weekly road census, go to: http://www.concord.org/~dick/mon.html
Good numbers of Monarchs continued to migrate through this past week.
The Avalon Seawatch counted 58 on October 20th and observers all over
Cape May County were noticing migrants passing steadily overhead.
Monarchs will continue to migrate through with each cold front, though
by early November each sighting will be a treat.
Monarch caterpillars and chrysalises are still being found in gardens
with tender milkweed plants.
A BRAZILIAN SKIPPER was at Hidden Valley on October 23rd! This southern
stray is one of only several County records! Butterfly gardens have
grown quiet, but Seaside Goldenrod is still in bloom and drawing in fair
numbers of AMERICAN LADIES, PAINTED LADIES, RED ADMIRALS, COMMON
BUCKEYES, SULPHURS, CABBAGE WHITES, SACHEMS and of course MONARCHS.
Other goodies enjoyed this week include a VICEROY, VARIEGATED
FRITILLARY, E. TAILED BLUE, AMERICAN COPPER, GRAY HAIRSTREAK, PEARL
CRESCENT, HACKBERRY EMPEROR, TAWNY EMPEROR, AMERICAN SNOUT, and
MOURNING CLOAKS (that were on the move at Cape May Point and heading
west up the Delaware Bayshore at East Point).
Good places to view and enjoy migrating & nectaring butterflies (BUT NOT
TO COLLECT or MANHANDLE them, since all gardens in South Jersey are
butterfly sanctuaries!!!) include the various public gardens in Cape May
County, all of which are noted on CMBO's "Birding & Butterflying Map":
(1) Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Gardens in North Wildwood, (2) Pavilion
Circle Gardens in Cape May Point, (3) Cape May Water Conservation Garden
in Cape May, (4) Cape May Bird Observatory's Center for Research &
Education "Model Backyard Habitat" gardens in Goshen, (5) Cape May Bird
Observatory's Northwood Center gardens in Cape May Point, (6) NJ
Audubon's Nature Center of Cape May gardens in Cape May.
New Jersey Audubon's web site has the Cape May County Butterfly
Checklist available as a download:
A DRAGONFLY flight occurred on October 22, including mostly BLACK
SADDLEBAGS and COMMON GREEN DARNERS.
The NJ Endangered & Nongame Species Program recently shared that NJ's
nesting Bald Eagle population now stands at 31 pairs. These adults do
not migrate; since early October observers have noticed that many of
them are again spending time back at their nest. Bald Eagles and Great
Horned Owls are our earliest nesting birds, so they are already setting
HIGH DRAMA was witnessed this week on October 23rd at Bivalve in
Cumberland County. Thousands of shorebirds were viewed from the
boardwalk, included: 1,000's of DUNLIN, 500+ BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, 3
HUDSONIAN GODWIT, 2 MARBLED GODWIT, 2 AMERICAN AVOCET, 1 RED KNOT. A
PEREGRINE FALCON came in hunting and singled out one of the Hudsonian
Godwits. It tail chased the bird for five minutes, when a second
Peregrine joined it and the duo was too much for the godwit. One of the
Peregrines caught and killed the godwit. The second Peregrine came in
and chased off the first. Then a sub-adult Bald Eagle chased both of
the Peregrines off and made off with the godwit. One of the Peregrines
chased the Bald Eagle for a good five minutes before giving up. And so
it goes . . . but how many times is that unfolding of events in the
natural world witnessed?
Visitors to The Nature Conservancy's Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge
(also known as "The Meadows") continue to enjoy lengthy looks at
AMERICAN BITTERN along the East Path, the path closest to Cape May
City. Be on the lookout for SORA RAILS too at this location.
Most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have migrated south. From now on,
question any hummingbird you see, even if it looks like a female or
immature Ruby-throated Hummingbird, since western rarities occur from
Male GREAT HORNED OWLS have been setting up territories by hooting at
dawn and dusk for several weeks now. If you should hear the male's
hoot, "whoo-who-who-who, whoooo, whoooo," you can be assured that a pair
will nest somewhere nearby come January.
COYOTES continue to be seen and heard in the Higbee Beach area and along
New England Road. These new residents are doing an excellent job of
keeping feral cats under control, or so it seems, since very few feral
cats have been seen since the Coyotes moved into the area . . .
certainly a positive change for migratory songbirds!
The glorious fall colors we've enjoyed for the last month are being
swept away by strong winds this weekend. The fluffy white flowers on
female Groundsel-tree bushes continue to accent the landscape. Female
Red Cedar trees are blue with berries now, just in time for fall
migrants. Stands of Pokeweed, Virginia Creeper, and Arrowwood Viburnum
are ripe with deep purple berries now and drawing in good numbers of
migrant songbirds, especially Catbirds and Thrushes. Migrant birds are
also counting on Bayberries, Waxmyrtle berries, and Poison Ivy berries
Be sure to take advantage of the many CMBO programs. For full details
about the various bird walks, workshops, field trips, and programs
happening right now go to New Jersey Audubon Society's web site
(http://www.njaudubon.org) -- then to "Fall Program Schedule" -- then to Cape
May Bird Observatory . . . or go directly there by typing in the
The Cape May Bird Observatory has daily walks, requiring no
pre-registration, and many special field trips and programs that do. To
receive a copy of our Program Schedule, stop by our centers, or call
609-861-0700, or go to New Jersey Audubon's WEB SITE at:
The Cape May Bird Observatory is a research and education unit of the
New Jersey Audubon Society. Our aim is to perpetuate and preserve the
ornithological and natural history significance of Cape May. Your
membership supports these goals and this hotline. For more information
call 609-861-0700 or send a request for information to CMBO, 600 Route
47 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210. Our two centers are CMBO's
Center for Research & Education at 600 Route 47 North in Goshen and
CMBO's Northwood Center at 701 East Lake Drive in Cape May Point.
The Cape May Natural History & Events Hotline is a service of New Jersey
Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory and details sightings from Cape May,
Cumberland, and Atlantic Counties and near shore waters. Updates are
made on Thursday evenings. Please report natural history sightings to
CMBO at 609-861-0700 or 609-884-2736. For the Cape May Birding Hotline
call 609-898-BIRD. Thanks for calling and ENJOY THE NATURAL WORLD!
New Jersey Audubon Society's
Cape May Bird Observatory
Center for Research & Education
600 Route 47 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
609-861-0700, x-16 (phone) / 609-861-1651 (fax)